Bionic Boost in the Workplace

September 20, 2019
Bionic Boost in the Workplace

Robotic shorts offer relief to fatigued workers.

The latest, exciting quest to improve working conditions has produced robotic shorts. Developed by a team of university researchers, the lightweight exosuit and its power system are designed to detect movements and assist their execution, thereby reducing the stress and injury associated with physical demands. The increased strength is expected to boost workers’ productivity.

Video Spotlight: Walking Faster with Robo Shorts

This post is based on the CNBC article, These Robotic Shorts Boost Workers’ Strength and Productivity. Here’s How., by S. Rega and L. Ioannou, August 29, 2019, and the YouTube video, Scientists Built Robo Shorts to Make Walking Easierby Tech World, August 16, 2019. Image source:  Shutterstock / Dm_Cherry

Discussion Questions:

1. What is productivity? How do robotic shorts help improve it?

Guidance: Productivity is the ratio of output to input. In reducing strain and increasing physical strength and speed, the robotic shorts may enable workers to do more work in less time. The shorts thus have the potential to increase output while reducing input, thereby resulting in substantial productivity gains.

2. How are the robotic shorts designed? How do they enhance working conditions?

Guidance: The shorts are made of lightweight textiles, with a mobile actuation system that detects transitions in movements. Equipped with the system, the shorts duplicate the natural biomechanics of the human musculoskeletal system and therefore assist workers in the execution of demanding physical tasks such as lifting, climbing, walking, and running. In alleviating the risks of injury due to bodily strain and reducing fatigue, they improve work safety and perhaps job satisfaction as well.

3. What are the work measurement implications in companies adopting the suits for their workforce?

Guidance: The implications are significant. New time studies and/or work sampling will have to be conducted to account for the greater speed in accomplishing various tasks. If the firm maintains standard elemental times, they will have to be revised accordingly. If the firm relies on predetermined time standards, the current level of difficulty of some basic elements will have to be modified.


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